Volume 97, Issue 1
Thursday, May 22, 2003

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Faculty votes on tentative deal

"Very good news for students"

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

A year of negotiations between Western's faculty union and administration has yielded a tentative agreement on which faculty members voted yesterday.

On June 30, 2002 the contract between Western's administration and the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association expired. Since then, debate over a new contract has been ongoing.

The faculty voted 70 per cent in favour of giving UWOFA the right to strike if necessary on Jan. 17. A conciliator was brought in to provide a third-party perspective on Jan. 31. This lead to the current tentative agreement reached at the end of April.

The main source of contention, explained incoming UWOFA President Albert Katz, has been over compensation (salary plus benefits). Compared to other research-intensive universities, Western's faculty is at the bottom of the list, Katz said.

Other issues UWOFA would have liked included in the new contract were considerations for workload, faculty renewal and security for part time employees, he added.

"It's fair enough to say that compensation is better than before, but it certainly doesn't give [the faculty] parity with the [other research-intensive universities]," Katz explained, in reference to the quality of the agreement. This is the best agreement that can be hoped for at this time, he added.

The administration's perspective on the tentative agreement is that it is sufficient to compensate faculty and keep Western competitive in terms of attracting quality staff to the university, explained Alex Mercer, director of Western's faculty relations.

Mercer stated the previous contract was also sufficient and added Western's faculty is not one of the most poorly compensated, a claim made by UWOFA.

Mercer said the year-long duration of negotiations was normal. "That's just the process of negotiation."

"[The tentative agreement] is very good news for students," said Paul Yeoman, president of the University Student's Council.

Yeoman added he was glad that both sides were able to work through the negotiation process and reach a compromise.

If ratified, the new contract will be in effect until June 30, 2006, Katz confirmed.

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